OMCT provides expert briefing to UN anti-torture body: ‘Urgent need to prevent transfers to torture’

Geneva, 07August 2015. With migration pressures increasing around the world,new conflicts emerging and an aggressive counter-terrorism debate portrayingforeigners and migrants as unwanted or security threats, the OMCT warns of anincreasing risk that States are sending people back to torture or cruel,inhuman or degrading treatment.

In a thematic briefing to the UN Committee againstTorture, the UNs main anti-torture body, the OMCT presented its concernsregarding the lack of implementation and protections against transfers totorture as a growing and under-reported global problem.

‘States who send persons back to real risks of tortureare complicit for such violations under article 3 of the UN Convention againstTorture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It isalarming to see that protections against such transfers are lacking or notapplied in many regions of the world. There is a need to think collectively onhow to reinforce an effective protection strategy to prevent transfers totorture in reality”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

The briefing set out the legal framework on theprinciple under comparative human rights law, the implementation of fundamentalpreventive safeguards and the reinforcement of effective national andinternational remedies against return. Another key topic has been the numerouslegal policy challenges posed by counter-terrorism laws and practices post9-11. States have sought to limit or circumvent this fundamental principle andtransferred persons to countries with a real risk of torture. The OMCT calledfor the developmentof a clear, comprehensive and systematic set of guidelines on how toenforce the prohibition of refoulement and how to put in place effectiveremedies against it - including reparation. Indeed the Committee againstTorture has reaffirmed at numerous occasions the absolute nature of theprinciple. States should apply no exception based on national security concernsand counter-terrorism policies.

The briefing to the UN Committee Against Tortureincluded Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General, and OMCT legal experts,Helena Solà Martín and Nicole Buerli, and other international experts,including Dr. Fabián Salvioli, the Chairperson of the UN Human RightsCommittee, Dr. Mark Villiger the Judge of the European Court of Human Rights,and leading civil society experts Carla Festmann, Director of Redress, and IanSeiderman, Head of Legal Policy at the International Commission of Jurists.

Pleasesee also:

OMCT submission to the UN Committee Against Torture

OMCT briefing paper on the UN Convention AgainstTorture

OMCT Handbook for further details on the jurisprudence of CAT onnon-refoulement

For furtherinformation, please contact:

Astrid Salcedo Pinzon

asp@omct.org, +41 22 809 49 39

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